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Photo By: Discover Shimane
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade

Celebrate the founding of Shimane Prefecture’s capital city by watching samurai parade through the streets against a backdrop of cherry blossoms.

By Laura Payne

Matsue, the capital of Shimane Prefecture, is famous for samurai history, traditional tea culture and the designated national treasure Matsue Castle. The city as it is today would not exist without Horio Yoshiharu—a feudal lord who was essential in moving the regional seat of power to Matsue.

The Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade is held on the first Saturday of April to commemorate Matsue’s founding. Dressed as Horio Yoshiharu and other historical figures, dozens of people parade through Matsue wearing period costumes. With a strong connection to local history and a date that coincides with cherry blossom viewing season, this is one of Matsue’s must-see spring festivals.

Inspired by History

Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade

Photo by: Discover Shimane History remembers the Horio clan and Horio Yoshiharu as the founders of Matsue.

The Horio clan was granted governance of what is now eastern Shimane and the Oki Islands in 1600. To better foster the development of a capital city, they decided to construct a castle near Lake Shinji—making this area the regional seat of power.

Horio Yoshiharu oversaw the construction of Matsue Castle but passed away before it was completed. Horio Yoshiharu’s son took control of the domain after this but later died in 1633 without an heir. This caused regional power to transfer to another clan. Despite their short governance, history remembers the Horio clan and Horio Yoshiharu as the founders of Matsue.

History Brought to Life

Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade

Photo by: Discover Shimane The procession departs from Matsue Castle and loops around nearby neighborhoods.

The Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade represents the Horio clan and their soldiers moving to Matsue. The procession of participants departs from Matsue Castle and loops around nearby neighborhoods before returning to the castle grounds.

Participants portraying Horio Yoshiharu, his wife and children are highlights of the parade, but groups embodying male and female warriors are also eye-catching with prop guns, swords, naginata (polearms) and other weapons. Other parade groups include ladies dressed in old-fashioned kimono and children who play traditional instruments or march while wearing armor. Children were not historically included on feudal battlefields, but their inclusion in Musha Gyoretsu is tradition.

The Fun Continues

Photo by: Discover Shimane Head to the castle for cherry blossom viewing!

The Musha Gyoretsu Warrior Parade takes place during Matsue Castle’s spring festival (held from late March through mid-April). Taiko (drum) performances and other events take place in the days before, during and after the parade. The castle’s opening hours are also extended around this time, giving visitors a chance to enjoy cherry blossoms at night.

Things To Know

Festival dates

The parade is typically held on the afternoon of the first Saturday in April, but it may be canceled, postponed or held indoors in case of bad weather.

Please avoid using flash photography during the parade as this may startle parade horses.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Matsue Castle, the parade’s starting point, is accessible by bus or on foot from Matsue station.

The Sunrise Express offers access to Matsue station from Tokyo and Yokohama. The Yakumo limited express train provides access from Okayama.

Within Shimane or Tottori Prefecture, Matsue is accessible via local or express trains on the San’in Main Line. The privately-run Ichibata Electric Railway also provides access from Izumo city.

Where To Stay

Matsueshinjiko Onsen Matsue New Urban Hotel
  • 40-1 Nishichamachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0845 Japan
  • ¥6,500 - ¥35,000
  • 4.17/5 (3,543 reviews)
  • 0.8 km
Matsueshinjiko Onsen Ohashikan
  • 40 Suetsuguhommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0843 Japan
  • ¥11,550 - ¥43,320
  • 4.17/5 (443 reviews)
  • 0.9 km
Onyado Nono Matsue
  • 2-35 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥19,098 - ¥58,058
  • 4.63/5 (542 reviews)
  • 0.9 km
Hotel Route-Inn Matsue
  • 2-22 Higashihommachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0842 Japan
  • ¥9,500 - ¥11,500
  • 4.29/5 (1,201 reviews)
  • 1.0 km
Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Hotel Ichibata
  • 30 Chidoricho, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0852 Japan
  • ¥11,880 - ¥58,300
  • 4.33/5 (2,405 reviews)
  • 1.2 km

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